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A Step-By-Step Guide To Fixing a Dripping Faucet

A Step-By-Step Guide To Fixing a Dripping Faucet

A dripping faucet is more than just a minor annoyance. It symbolizes wasted water and can even increase utility bills over time. Fortunately, fixing a dripping faucet is often a straightforward DIY task that doesn’t require a call to the plumber.

This guide is designed to walk you step by step through the process of fixing a dripping faucet. From identifying the type of faucet you have to replacing faulty parts, we’ve got you covered. With the right tools and patience, you can stop that persistent drip and again enjoy the sound of silence (and the relief of a lower water bill). Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a first-time fixer-upper, this guide will help you confidently tackle the task. Let’s dive into the world of faucet repair and turn that annoying drip into a thing of the past.


Before you begin the repair, gathering all the necessary tools and materials is important. Proper preparation will make the process smoother and more efficient.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Adjustable wrench or set of fixed-size wrenches.
  • Screwdrivers (both flathead and Phillips).
  • Replacement parts (washers, O-rings, or a new cartridge, depending on your faucet type).
  • Plumber’s tape.
  • Clean cloth or rag.
  • A small cup or container to hold small parts.
  • Penetrating oil (like WD-40) in case any parts are difficult to remove.

Shutting Off the Water Supply:

  1. Locate the water supply valves. These are typically under the sink for kitchen faucets or near the toilet for bathroom sinks.
  2. Turn the valves clockwise to shut off the water supply to the faucet. If your sink doesn’t have individual shut-off valves, you’ll need to shut off the main water supply to your house.
  3. Open the faucet to drain any remaining water and release any built-up pressure.

Setting Up Your Workspace:

  1. Clear the area around the sink to provide easy access and visibility.
  2. Lay down a towel or cloth to protect the sink surface and catch any dropped parts.
  3. Place a small container or cup to keep small parts like screws or washers so they don’t get lost.
  4. With your tools, materials, and workspace prepared, you can start fixing your dripping faucet. The next step will involve identifying your type of faucet, which is crucial for the following repair steps.

Identifying Your Faucet Type

A step-by-step guide for fixing a dripping faucet.

Correctly identifying your faucet type is a crucial step in the repair process, as each type has its specific repair method. Here’s how to determine what kind of faucet you’re dealing with:

Compression Faucets:

  • These are often found in older homes and are quite easy to identify. They have two handles, one for hot and one for cold, and you need to tighten them down to stop the water flow.
  • They work by compressing a washer against a valve seat, which controls the water flow.

Cartridge Faucets:

  • Cartridge faucets can have either one or two handles. Pay attention to the handle’s movement to identify them: it moves up and down to control the flow and left and right to control the temperature.
  • Inside, a cartridge moves up and down to regulate water flow.

Ball Faucets:

  • These faucets are common in kitchens and have a single handle that moves over a rounded ball-shaped cap right above the base of the faucet.
  • The ball faucet has a single lever that controls a slotted plastic or metal ball. The ball’s slots align with hot and cold water inlets in the faucet body to regulate the temperature and flow of the water.

Disc Faucets:

  • These are a newer type of faucet and are distinguished by their single lever over a wide cylindrical body.
  • The handle moves up and down to control the water flow and side to side to control the temperature. Inside, there are two ceramic discs at the bottom of the chamber that slide over each other to regulate water flow and temperature.

Once you have identified your faucet type, you can use the appropriate repair method.

Disassembling the Faucet

A group of plumbing tools for fixing a dripping faucet on a wooden table.
Disassembling the faucet is necessary to identify and fix the issue causing the drip. Follow these general steps, keeping in mind the specific type of your faucet:

1. Turn Off the Water:

  • Ensure the water supply is turned off before you start disassembling the faucet.

2. Remove the Faucet Handle:

  • Most faucet handles are secured with a screw. This might be hidden under a decorative cap on the top of the handle, which you can gently pry off with a flathead screwdriver.
  • Once you find the screw, use a screwdriver to remove it, then carefully lift the handle off the faucet stem.

3. Take Out the Trim and Sleeve:

  • Depending on your faucet type, decorative trim and sleeve may be around the stem. These can usually be removed by hand or with the help of a wrench.

4. Unscrew the Packing Nut:

  • Use an adjustable wrench to loosen and remove the packing nut. This will expose the internal parts of the faucet.

5. Remove the Stem or Cartridge:

  • For compression faucets, pull the stem straight out from the valve body.
  • In cartridge, ball, or disc faucets, additional parts might be securing the cartridge or ball in place. Carefully remove these parts and then lift out the cartridge or ball.

6. Inspect the Removed Parts:

  • Once you’ve removed the stem or cartridge, inspect it for any damage. Look for worn-out washers, O-rings, or seals.

Remember, the key to successful disassembly is to be gentle and keep track of all parts and their order. This makes reassembly easier and ensures you don’t damage any components.

Inspecting and Replacing Faulty Parts

Once you have disassembled your faucet, the next step is to inspect the internal parts for any signs of wear or damage. Here’s how to proceed:

1. Inspect the Washer and O-Ring (Compression Faucets):

  • The most common cause of drips in compression faucets is a worn-out washer or O-ring. These are located at the bottom of the stem.
  • Check the washer against the valve seat; it should fit snugly. Any irregularities, tears, or signs of wear indicate it needs replacement.
  • Also, inspect the O-ring around the stem for any damage.

2. Check the Cartridge (Cartridge Faucets):

  • In cartridge faucets, look for mineral deposits or wear on the cartridge. Sometimes, cleaning the cartridge can resolve the issue. If it’s damaged, it will need to be replaced.
  • Note the orientation of the cartridge when you remove it to ensure correct reinstallation.

3. Examine the Ball Assembly (Ball Faucets):

  • Ball faucets have several parts that can wear out, including the ball itself, O-rings, or rubber seals.
  • Check for any signs of wear or damage. Replacement kits are available and typically include all the necessary parts.

4. Inspect the Ceramic Discs (Disc Faucets):

  • For disc faucets, lift out the cylinder and inspect the ceramic discs. If they are cracked or chipped, they need to be replaced.
  • Also, clean any sediment or debris affecting the faucet’s function.

5. Replacing Faulty Parts:

  • Once you’ve identified the worn or damaged parts, take them to a hardware store to find suitable replacements. It’s crucial to get parts that exactly match the originals.
  • Replace the faulty parts, ensuring everything fits snugly and securely.

6. Reapplying Sealant (if necessary):

  • If you had to remove any sealant or plumber’s tape during disassembly, reapply it to ensure a watertight seal when reassembling the faucet.


Fixing a dripping faucet can seem daunting, but it’s an achievable DIY project with the right guidance and patience. We’ve walked through the steps of identifying your faucet type, disassembling it, replacing faulty parts, and putting it back together. Following these instructions, you should have a fully functional, drip-free faucet. Not only have you solved an annoying problem, but you’ve also taken a step toward conserving water and reducing your utility bills.

Remember, while some home repairs are perfect for DIY, sometimes calling in the professionals is best. For any home repair needs, from plumbing to mold remediation, All Dry USA is here to help. Visit our website, All Dry USA, for more tips and guides or to schedule a professional service. Our team of experts is ready to provide you with high-quality, reliable solutions for keeping your home in top condition. Don’t let a small problem become a big one – contact us today!

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